Microsoft UK pays former female executive over £1 million

Microsoft's UK division has allegedly paid a former female executive over £1 million as part of a deal to compensate her for not being named as the managing director of the division. The Telegraph reports that Natalie Ayres, who worked at Microsoft UK for 15 years, had risen up the ranks to become the general manager of Microsoft's Small-Medium Enterprises and Partners Group. However, when the job position of Microsoft UK general manager became available in 2006, Ayres was reportedly passed over in favor of Gordon Frazer, who was a general manager of Microsoft South Africa.

The move made other employees at Microsoft UK angry, allegedly because they felt Ayres had fallen victim to a "glass ceiling" at the division. This issue has supposedly kept female team members from moving higher in the executive ranks. One unnamed person was quoted as saying, "They [management] do not follow procedure enough and if your face doesn’t fit, you suffer. It’s a boys’ club. The only way to progress beyond a certain point is to become a male in female clothing."

The story claims that Ayres decided to depart Microsoft UK at the end of 2006 but not before receiving what was called a “compromise agreement”. This deal allowed her to receive a payout that amounted to over £1 million. The story also claims that male executives at Microsoft UK have been accused of repeatedly sexually harassing their female team members. One such incident happened during a party in Atlanta where one female employee claims she was forced to leave after receiving unwanted sexual advances from two of her male senior team members. Neither Microsoft nor Ayres have commented on these reports.

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I've heard the truth is even more interesting, as is the reason for the vacancy in the first place! Do the math.

It's quite easy for men in this industry to assume that women in this situation are just 'crying sexism' because they didn't get the position they wanted, but in the article it states that 'other employees' were the ones who voiced their anger. I don't know what actually happened (nor does anyone else here) so I'm not going to take sides, but I'm going to bet that quite a few people who read this story just jump to the conclusion that *obviously* the man was more qualified and she was just whining.

In my personal experience in the world of computing, men have a tendency to assume that women are ditzy and know nothing about technology. It's easy for a man to say that there's no glass ceiling for women in the workplace, much like it's easy for someone who hasn't experienced racism to not realise how prevalent it is.

Personally, I'm not sure they'd have paid out if they didn't think that there may have been an oversight. But hey, what do I know.

All companies have their cliques and your face needs to fit in order to progress. The old cliche of "It's not what you know, it's who you know." is definitely true in my experience, having been on both sides of the fence. There's not enough information available to determine whether she didn't get the job because she's female or not but I'd say she sounds very lucky.

They didn't even bother to interview her which says it all really. Microsoft had no leg to stand on by doing that so good to see they paid up.

oceanmotion said,
They didn't even bother to interview her which says it all really. Microsoft had no leg to stand on by doing that so good to see they paid up.

Well, who knows. I wouldn't take that as an assumption of guilt. Claims like this are an uphill battle for companies and tend to favor the employee anyway. So, they might have thought it cheaper to just pay out...

M_Lyons10 said,

Well, who knows. I wouldn't take that as an assumption of guilt. Claims like this are an uphill battle for companies and tend to favor the employee anyway. So, they might have thought it cheaper to just pay out...

Perhaps but paying them £1 million kinda points the finger at MS. Like you said, maybe cases do end in favour of the employee but I think it would be better to stand up to such things if you are right. Maybe MS like the distinction of not being labled guilty in court and want bad press only.

By the same breath a woman only has to whisper the words sexual discrimination in order to get a huge payout these days. Maybe she wasnt as qualified as the South African guy?

the better twin said,
By the same breath a woman only has to whisper the words sexual discrimination in order to get a huge payout these days. Maybe she wasnt as qualified as the South African guy?

Well, considering it sounds like he was a General Manager of one office moving to a General Manager position of another office... I'd say it sounds like he was more qualified than someone that wasn't... :?

M_Lyons10 said,

Well, considering it sounds like he was a General Manager of one office moving to a General Manager position of another office... I'd say it sounds like he was more qualified than someone that wasn't... :?

Could be... and they payed her $1 million, just to make the Microsoft UK happy.